I wouldn’t describe it as category fraud, per se, since categorizing genres is a lot more subjective than, say, determining whether an actor is lead or supporting in a movie, but there have been unusual category placements in the past. For me, the ones that stand out:
Toni Braxton’s “Secrets” as a Pop Album — Not sure why she entered this category. Sure, “Un-Break My Heart” was a big Diane Warren pop ballad, but the album as a whole is as R&B as ’90s R&B gets. She ended up losing to Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” when she probably would have won easy against The Tony Rich Project’s “Words” in R&B.
Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine” as a Pop Album — Same deal. This is an odd album to categorize as pop. I would have put it in alternative, like where Apple competed for “The Idler Wheel.” Not sure she would have won the alternative race that year (the White Stripes took it, and the Grammys loved the White Stripes), but the fact that they liked it enough to nominate it in the crowded pop category suggests she might have had a real shot at alternative if she went there.
What strange category placements have stood out to you?
Aretha Franklin’s version of Jumping Jack Flash was nominated for R&B Female in 1987 and lost to Anita Baker’s Rapture Album. Jumping Jack Flash should have been submitted to Rock Female.
I always go back and forth on Whitney Houston’s Pop Female nomination for I’m Your Baby Tonight in 1991. Sometimes I think that it should have been nominated in R&B Female and sometimes in Pop Female.
I feel the same way about Whitney Houston’s version of I Believe In You And Me which was nominated in Best R&B Female in 1998 because sometimes I think that it should have been nominated in Best Pop Female.
1996: Toni Braxton, Secrets nominated for Best Pop Album.
2007: John Legend, Once Again submitted to Best Pop Vocal Album.
2007: Prince, Planet Earth submitted to Best Pop Vocal Album.
2009: Beyonce, “Halo” nominated in ROTY over “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).”
2009: Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak submiited to Best Pop Vocal Album.
2015 Janet Jackson feat. J. Cole, “No Sleep” submitted to Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Avicii’s True being in Best Pop Vocal Album.
Taylor Swift’s Red in Best Country Album.
Whitney Houston, The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack nominated for Best R&B Album